Today was the first day I’ve been “back in the groove” following vacation and I was delighted to spend time with my dear friend, Courtney Jones (@PrincipalCEJ). We’ve known each other about a decade and in that time I’ve had the pleasure of watching her rise through the ranks of gifted education teacher, assistant principal, and now principal. She is a passionate educator, always willing to share her insights and motivates me in unexpected ways.
One of the first things she said as I sat down was, “How’s that book coming along?” I skirted the question with a laugh and told her she sounded just like my mom, always asking when I was going to share my stories between the pages of a hardback novel. Our conversation was free-flowing, one topic leading to the next. We talked about life-changing events like the passing of my mom and joyful moments focused on family and travel. Her eyes sparkled as she shared her experiences of attending the ISTE Conference in June.
It was during that conference that her virtual world of Twitter exploded as she had the opportunity to meet so many inspiring educators, including two of my PLN friends Jennifer Casa-Todd (@JCasaTodd) and Aaron Hogan (@aaron_hogan). It was heartwarming to hear the connection she made with Jennifer, sharing in a hug that was sent all the way from me in Virginia.
Courtney and I chatted about the impact Twitter has had on our professional learning, how the platform has provided an open door to connect with those for whom a connection may have never been made, and we shared a story or two about our “awestruck moments” of meeting our favorite authors in real life.
She told me how Aaron asked why she wasn’t blogging. His matter-of-fact approach in questioning Courtney resulted in a quick scroll through her Twitter page and commenting on what he saw. Listening to her retell the story had me laughing as she recounted all the excuses she gave him, none of which deterred him from asking, again, why she wasn’t blogging. When she finally admitted that she had started a blog for her school, documenting different events and activities, he looked her straight in the eyes and said these words that stopped her in her tracks:
“You need to tell YOUR story.”
Whoa! Wait… what? MY story? About my experiences? Who would want to read THAT?
The answer, my friend, is me.
I want to read your story. I want to know about your experiences. I want to soak up all the knowledge you have gained as an educator, a parent, a volunteer, a lacrosse coach, a surgical patient, a leader and a follower. You have life lessons that I need to hear!
See, your story matters. You took time out of your busy day to share your stories with me and now I am reflecting on your words, savoring the knowledge that seeps out as I relate your stories to my life. I walked away from our time together lifted up, inspired, challenged, and a bit humbled as I processed everything you shared.
We don’t live in the same town. I’m not sure when we will meet again. But I do know that your words inspire. Your experiences remind me that life is filled with highs and lows; it’s ok to be real, authentic, embracing the crazy, zany, exuberant people we are. It’s ok to fail, to feel the angst of frustration, to find joy in simple moments of the day. And if you start sharing your stories through written text, I can connect with you anywhere, anytime. I can share your story with others. I can refer to your experiences as I’m sharing my own stories and together we can learn and grow.
Your story matters and your story must be told! Jot those notes. Start that blog. Post that link. To quote the very words you spoke today: “You just never know the people you touch when you share your stories with the world.” Whether you are writing for #compelledtribe, #teacherswrite, or just #amwriting, your story can impact thousands with just a few clicks of a keyboard.
Thank you for rejuvenating me in ways I didn’t even know I needed. Now get to writing! You know Jennifer and Aaron will be messaging you soon asking, “Have you started that blog yet?” After all, to quote Dave Burgess (@burgessdave), “Only YOU can tell the story someone else needs to hear!”